ADOPTION OF ‘PUSH-PULL’ BIOLOGICAL CONTROL OF STRIGA WEED AMONG SMALLHOLDER MAIZE FARMERS IN HOMA-BAY, KENYA
Maize is the most important staple food for 96 percent of Kenya’s population. However, maize productivity in Kenya is low averaging 1800kg/ha compared to a yield potential of over 6000kg/ha. This has been attributed to low input use, climate-change, pests, weeds and diseases among others. Among the weeds, striga (Striga hermonthica) is perhaps the most critical due to its ability to retard maize growth by competing for its nutrients. While there are chemical and physical methods of striga control, studies show that their efficacy to manage the weed is limited. As a result, ‘push-pull’ biological method of striga control has been developed. The innovation controls striga and stemborer moths by using repellent (push) and trap (pull) plants. Although there is evidence showing that this method is effective and environment friendly, few farmers have adopted it in striga infested areas of Homabay in Kenya. This article assesses factors that influence farmers’ choice towards adoption of this push-pull innovation. A random sample of 96 smallholder farmers from Mbita and Homabay subcounties were interviewed. Data analysis involved descriptive statistics, gross margin analysis and probit regression model. Results show that the gross margins for adopters was higher at Ksh. 43,550 (US$ 420.2) compared to non-adopters at Ksh. 34,575 (US$ 333.6). The probability of adopting pushpull biological control increases with access to extension services; household size; returns from maize but decreases with limited access to markets. The findings suggest that addressing labour sourcing arrangements, enhancing the profitability of maize farming and putting in place the right institutional arrangements for extension and access to markets would enhance the adoption of the push-pull innovation.